Utah County Birders Newsletter
February 2000

February Meeting

7:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 16th at the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus, Provo, Utah

"Name That Bird!" 130 species, five seconds each.

From her extensive video library of Utah birds, Tuula Rose has put together a video presentation of some common (and some not so common) Utah County birds to help hone our "Bird Identification Skills"

"After all we have to have faith that the famine will pass and we'll have a feast of spring birds coming our way soon."

Should be a fun evening!

Field Trip

Saturday, February 26th, 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Meet at the Bean Museum, on the BYU Campus. Dennis Shirley will lead us to the most recent "hot spots " in Utah County or in a neighboring County.

Also, mark your calendar for a field trip on Satruday, March 18th. Detail to be announced

It's a Wonder

by Darlene Amott

A few years ago, I participated in a bird banding project in Texas. Some of the experiences I had while participating in that activity have been on my mind ever since. I was particularly impressed with the feelings I experienced with  a bird actually in my hand. The Carolina Chickadee was the smallest one I handled, and I remember how big and awkward my hand felt as I held the tiny thing. The Chickadee is only four and three quarter inches long. Roughly two inches of that is tail, and about three-fourths of an inch is head. That leaves a body of about two inches. It was so tiny in the palm of my hand that I felt like I was crushing it, and it was so light that I could hardly feel it. I remember the apparent strength of the Cardinal even though it, too, was extremely light. I had to hold it tight for my own self protection. It kept wanting to take a piece out of my finger. I am no ornithologist, but I have learned a few things from my experiences and have made a few observations about birds. 

Think, for a minute, about the structure of a bird. In order to facilitate flight, the bones must be as light as possible, and they are much lighter than a mammal bone of comparable size. The interior structure of the bone is mostly air, but there is a marvelous weave of bony material which gives unbelievable strength to it. The legs and feet of small birds are so slender that they hardly seem to exist. Even on larger birds it seems incredible that the slender legs can hold up the body. Wings and beaks are a wonder as well. Wings are adapted to the life style of the bird. Some birds who fly long distances or stay in the air for long periods of time have long, sleek wings adapted to gliding. Birds like ducks seem to have shorter stubbier wings which are strong enough to lift the bird from the ground, but not suitable for long sustained flight. 

It would have been fun to hold a bird for some time and just consider the wonder of it, but we wanted to and needed to keep the trauma the bird experienced to a minimum. We measured quickly and released it. Now, as I look at a bird, I see more than just the outward beauty. I see a marvelously and perfectly engineered miracle. It's a wonder.

Robin's View

by Robin Tuck

Bald Eagle Day

Last evening I saw Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife Resources on TV news announcing that today was 'Bald Eagle Day' and he would be at Fountain Green where a number of Bald Eagles could be seen. So this morning, I roused my son and we headed out to Fountain Green.

For the past several years, Scott has set up shop south of Tooele at Rush Lake and, wonder of wonders, I have driven right by and pulled over when I recognized what was happening. Scott gave up Rush Lake because the Eagles were variable, some years there would be a lot while other years would be a bust. However, Fountain Green is way away from where I am apt to go accidently. Why I was ever driving south from Tooele is another hard to explain thing.

We found Scott on a lonely road a couple miles east of Fountain Green surrounded by wildlife enthusiasts. There were 5 or 6 Bald Eagles in a tree off in the distance with a couple more on fence posts behind us. We had a great visit looking at the eagles and renewing our friendship with Scott. By the time we left there were 11 Bald Eagles in the tree making for a memorable visit.

I quickly glanced over the sign-up sheet to see if I recognized any of the names but none jumped out at me. Perhaps Bald Eagles are 'old hat' to most of us birders, but it seems to me that we should have a better representation at these DWR sponsored birding events, if not as participants, then surely as presenters. There are a number of DWR sponsored events coming up relating to birding that we could participate in. Some of these are:

Feb. 19
Bald Eagle and Winter Raptor Field Trip with Robert Walters, Fairfield, Cedar Fort, Ophir, Vernon, meet at UDWR Salt Lake City Office, 8 AM.
Mar. 3-4
Snow Goose Festival, Delta, Gunnison Bend Reservoir and Clear Lake Waterfowl Management Area, 8 AM.
Wetland Birding with Jerry Openshaw, Odgen area, date to be announced.
May 5-7
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival (Wes Shields), Davis and adjacent counties.
May 13
Migratory Bird/Wetland Day, several locations - Scott Root at Rock Canyon Park.
June 3
100 Species in a Day Birding Classic. Three sites in Utah County. (Scott explained this was a 'Dennis Shirley' special and he will need help to make it happen.)

There are other events scheduled throughout the year that would be of interest to birders. I encourage you to schedule your time to attend some of these birding events. These would be perfect to invite neighbors and friends to. See you there.